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Security and Duty of Protection

Introduction


      Right to protection

Persons belonging to or working with non-governmental organisations should not be subject to discrimination or penalised, persecuted or harassed in any way on account of this. See Article 3 of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) (UN), Article 12 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Paragraph 24 of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of NGOs in Europe and Paragraph 13 of the Concluding Document of Vienna — The Third Follow-up Meeting, Vienna, 15 January 1989 (OSCE).
Such treatment should be prohibited by law and positive measures should be taken to secure the observance of this prohibition. See Article 12 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities.

      Duty to investigate and sanction improper treatment

Allegations of persons belonging to or working with non-governmental organisations being subject to discrimination or penalised, persecuted or harassed in any way on account of this should be subject to independent and effective investigation leading, where appropriate, to administrative measures and/or criminal proceedings against those responsible. See the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities and Süheyla Aydın v. Turkey, 24 May 2005.

      Restrictions governing surveillance

The activities of non-governmental organisations and of those belonging to or working with them should not be subject to any form of surveillance and data gathering in the absence of sufficient grounds to justify an interference with the right to respect for private life of those concerned. See McGinley and Egan v. United Kingdom (dec.), 28 November 1995, Tsavachidis v. Greece, 21 January 1999 and Segerstedt-Wiberg and Others v. Sweden, 6 June 2006.

      Duty of protection against efforts being undermined

The state should not provide support for efforts by private individuals and bodies to undermine the ability of non-governmental organisations to pursue their objectives through means that are consistent with universal and regional .human rights standards.
See Article 12 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities and Ensuring protection – European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.
See also Ouranio Toxo and Others v. Greece, 20 October 2005, 97 members of the Gldani Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and 4 Others v. Georgia, 3 May 2007, Wilson, National Union of Journalists and Others v. United Kingdom, 2 July 2002 and Danilenkov and Others v. Russia, 30 July 2009.

      Duty to promote value of non-governmental organisations
     
Positive measures should be taken to ensure that both public authorities and the general public appreciate the valuable role that non-governmental organisations play in society. See Articles 3 and 18 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities, and Paragraph 10 of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, Copenhagen, 29 June 1990.



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